Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Small Group Rails Against Metro’s Proposed Late-Night Cutback

A group of transit advocates took a little trip on Metrorail with a couple of Maryland state delegates Friday night.

The goal? To corral support from Prince George’s County residents in a push for Metro to extend late-night train service.

The brief journey — with Delegates Erek Barron (D-District 24) and Carlo Sanchez (D-District 47B) in tow — started after 10 p.m. on the Green Line at the Prince George’s Plaza Metro station in Hyattsville and continued at Fort Totten in northeast D.C.

“We’re here today because … there’s still discussions of Metro cutting off late-night service permanently,” Lessie Henderson, co-chair of the Prince George’s Advocates for Community-Based Transit of Glenn Dale, told a handful of riders on the train. “I don’t know about you guys, but if you work in the service industry or other industries out of the Monday-through-Friday, 9-to-5 kind of salaries … it can be very expensive to travel.”

Lessie Henderson (right), co-chair of the Prince George's Advocates for Community-Based Transit, speaks with a Metrorail rider at the Fort Totten station in Northeast on Sept. 30 about Metro's late-night service proposal. Photo by William J. Ford
Lessie Henderson (right), co-chair of the Prince George’s Advocates for Community-Based Transit, speaks with a Metrorail rider at the Fort Totten station in Northeast on Sept. 30 about Metro’s late-night service proposal. Photo by William J. Ford

Metro closed stations at midnight in order to complete work along the rail system as part of its SafeTrack maintenance plan, which began in June. Prior to SafeTrack, the stations remained open until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and midnight the rest of the week.

The agency’s board of directors will hold a public hearing the week of Oct. 17 to discuss the late-night service plan.

One of the four options for hours of operations would include 5 a.m. through midnight Monday through Friday, open at 7 a.m. to midnight Saturday and open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Those unable to attend the hearing in person can submit comments Oct. 1-24.

A board committee will review the comments and submit its recommendation to the full board for approval by Dec. 15. The new hours could be implemented by July 2017.

Henderson’s wife, Melissa Beckford of Oxon Hill — holding a sign reading, “Extend bus times while you repair!” — said she supports the SafeTrack project, but wanted to speak for those such as herself who may have to work beyond the midnight Metrorail closing time and can’t use ride-sharing companies such as Uber or Lyft.

“When I worked for the health care industry at Howard University Hospital in the medical record department, I got off at 11:30,” said Beckford, who doesn’t own a vehicle. “But if I had to work late and on the weekends, how would I get home?”

To read the full scenarios, go to www.wmata.com.

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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